Archive for March 4, 2016

Mar 4

Clarus ’16 Photo Roundup, Friday, March 4

2016 | by Ben Moore | Category: Clarus 16

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Conference Photography by Ben Moore. Contact Ben at


Mar 4

Session 2 Recap: Walker, “Conscience and Religious Liberty: Why the Freedom to Believe is the Freedom to Flourish”

2016 | by Nathan Sherman | Category: Clarus 16

Editor’s Note: Grant Blankenship is the Preaching Elder at Cedar Springs Church in Cedar Crest, NM. He is a member of the Albuquerque Chapter of The Gospel Coalition. This post is a summary of Andrew Walker’s message from Friday evening at Clarus, March 4, “Conscience and Religious Liberty: Why the Freedom to Believe is the Freedom to Flourish.”


In the second session of Clarus ’16, Andrew Walker framed his thesis that religious freedom is necessary for religious, societal, and human flourishing by asking five questions:

1. Is Religious Liberty Biblical?

According to Walker, there are explicit and implicit truths in scripture.  For example, even though 2 + 2=4 cannot be found in scripture it is inherently true.  Walker said, “God made us capable to read and listen and put meaning to what our eyes see and what our ears hear–to think, to reason and to be self-aware.”  And so we must recognize that religious liberty is implicit in scripture.  Walker proposed that religious liberty is implicit in the 10 commandments.  His reasoned that governments cannot usurp the role of God by dictating things that belong exclusively to Him.  “Institutions, movements and governments cannot determine who God is and how He should be worshipped.  These kinds of concepts are exclusively the domain of God.”

2. Why Is Religious Liberty Essential to Human Dignity?

God desires every human to make their own decision about God.  Even if one is wrong, God ordained that each individual decide on their own to believe.  The announcement that Jesus is Lord subjects all other authorities under him, but at the same time, no person can be coerced into the Kingdom of God. Walker qualified this by saying, “Please understand, this is not to say that all quests to find God are equal.  But we cannot understand who God is for someone else.”  If we believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, we don’t need a state to back that up.

3. Then What is the State’s Role In Religious Liberty?

Walker showed how Paul explained in Romans 13:1-7 that any government’s role is limited by God. “The ideal government is one that operates within their God-given role.”  Walker explained that the ideal government is one that is neither hostile nor compulsory in any given religion.  The ideal government would allow any religion to present their beliefs freely and openly in the marketplace of ideas thereby allowing the conviction of religion to rest with each individual man.

4. How Is Religious Liberty Essential to the Christian Mission?

While its true that the Gospel does not need religious liberty, Jesus’ mandate to take the gospel into the world assumes a pathway to get there.  If we leave out the Great Commission, then we are missing the point about why Christians should be concerned about religious liberty. Our desire as Christians must be that people would have the liberty to make their own decision without pressure from an earthly authority.

5. Why Should We Not Give Up On Religious Liberty?

In Walker’s final point, he began by saying, “We must be careful not to romanticize persecution as a ‘better’ form of worship.  As Christians, we should be willing to die for our beliefs, but we shouldn’t look for persecution under the misconception that it makes our faith superior.”  Religious liberty is a tool like a machete to cut a path through the jungle of this world.  While Paul taught that we have a heavenly citizenship, he didn’t hesitate to assert his rights as a Roman citizen.  We don’t have the right to give up the fight for religious liberty.  At the core of our fight for religious liberty is the fight for individuals to make their own decision about God apart from the influence of worldly institutions.

If God requires man to make an individual decision about Him, then it is implicit that government should not usurp God’s divine decree.

Mar 4

Session 1 Recap: Strachan, “Image: How Theocentrism Shapes our Public Lives”

2016 | by Nathan Sherman | Category: Clarus 16

Editor’s Note: Adam Viramontes is the Lead Pastor at Mosaic Church, Albuquerque, NM. He is a member of the Albuquerque Chapter of The Gospel Coalition. This post is a summary of Owen Strachan’s message from Friday evening at Clarus, March 4, “Image: How Theocentrism Shapes our Public Lives.”


The glorious doctrine of ‘the image of God’ was the centerpiece for the opening session of Clarus 2016. Owen Strachan helped us understand six guiding principles for this foundational doctrine.

1. Theologically, the image of God implies the uniqueness of the human person.

From the very beginning of human history, from the very first page of the Bible, mankind is an enchanted being. Humanity, made in the image of its Maker, is the pinnacle of creation from the outset. This status, the enchanted nature of mankind, is unique to humanity alone. We are unlike any other creature made by God, simply because we were chosen by God to stand out.

We are not only representatives of God as image-bearers but also vice-regents called to rule and subdue God’s creation under his Kingly authority from chaos into order. There is a summons for God’s people to have their feet in this world.

The central question of the age is, ‘What does it mean to be human?’ We are made to be God-centered beings and there is no other religion or worldview that contributes such an exalted attribute to humanity from the beginning. Though the world offers a plethora of ‘isms’ in an attempt to answer this pressing question, Christianity alone gives true meaning to humanity.

2. Philosophically, the image of God implies solidarity with the broader group.

According to this precious Christian doctrine, there are no indispensable people. Even the graveyards are filled with indispensable people. The truth of this doctrine compels to one simple thing—neighbor love. The fulfillment of the second commandment as we love people. We love all people because all people are made in God’s image.

Does this not have deep implications for our public engagement with the world? We are not having a conversation with the public sphere to win culture wars or to impose our views. We are in this to love our neighbors. We are to love all of humanity—disabled children, the lonely, socially awkward, the friendless, unborn children, homosexuals, transgender, outcasts, homeless and even our enemies.

3. Personally, the image of God tells us that we have an identity, we don’t have to construct one.

We don’t have to make up our identity. We are free from the great modern project of constructing our own identity. God has already given it to us. We are free from image-maintenance. God has told us who we are. We are his likeness.

4. Economically, the image of God drives us towards meaningful work and thus meaningful public engagement.

We are to pursue the dominion mandate of Genesis 1:28. Building families is world-changing work. The small things—familial life and raising children—are glorious things. There is honor and eternity in the midst of the small things.

Our calling as image-bearers is to overcome the chaos of this world. Taming Excel spreadsheets, fitting pipes, nurturing wayward children, perfecting batting stances, founding new companies. This is what it means to be an image-bearer and bringing glory to our Maker. The spirit of secularism is to level things. Christianity calls us to build things for the glory of God.

5. Societally, the image of God means we must love our neighbors as ourselves.

The image of God calls us into community. Political activity as Christians in the world is an outworking of the gospel in our hearts. Chuck Colson declares, “Christians need to be against the world for the world.”Voting in elections and advocacy in the political arena is an outworking of the gospel in our public life.

6. Morally, the image of God means we cannot make up our way of being.

We inherit morality. Morality is not a buffet of palpable options. We are called to stand for the world-shaking reality that every being has worth and value. The secular world we live in is a false shadow that is passing away. We engage in our world but only as those who recognize this is not our true home.

We are engaged in ‘cosmos war.’ There is a raging war around us. We are involved in far worse than a culture war, we are in the middle of a cosmic war. This world is far worse than many of us realize. The true battle is not between the left and the right. The battle is against ‘the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.’ (Ephesians 6:12) Paganism is the force whispering in our ears that there is no morality except the morality we choose for ourselves. We are morally called to stand against the spirit of the world.

Why should we enter into the city of man? Why should we engage in the public sphere? The image of God and the grace of Jesus Christ!